Hello again. I have my first presentation next week in one of my workshops, and it got me thinking about presentation skills… and well… how to do this without wanting to sink into the wall behind us and just disappear!
So… here are few hints and tips I have learnt along the way.
- Don’t leave the preparation for your presentation to the day before. You need time to edit and refine it. It gives you time to get to know your content, and this always helps when you have to get up and talk about it, especially if someone asks a question.
- For group assignments preparation can be made easier if you have a common document where you all post into and can edit as you go along. You can use Office 365 One Drive for this, or even simpler is ‘google docs’ but ensure all users are able to edit.
- Have your notes on cue cards. I wear glasses too, so I find it easier to type my notes double spaced in a larger font so I don’t lose my place when the nerves of presenting kick in. I still cut them down to cue card size though, so my class can’t see my large A4 piece of paper shaking with nerves.
Ok so maybe you won’t have your audience up and dancing, but if you can get them to listen and keep their attention by getting them involved in other ways – you are winning!
- Try to ask questions to engage your audience, or get them to raise hands to yes or now questions. Reward an answer with a minty if you need to, however you do it, engaging your audience will help you deliver your message in a more memorable way, and will give you the edge that perhaps other students don’t have, increasing your overall presentation marks.
- Avoid the use of jargon, and keep your message clear and simple so that your audience can follow the content you are delivering.
- Using visual aids is good. It helps give the class something to focus on. However, I have witnessed many PowerPoint presentations where there was just too much text on each slide, or the font was just so small it was difficult to read.
- If you are going to use visual aids, keep your points simple and use diagrams where you can to engage the class with something more appealing to the eye. For example, my visual slide for this paragraph may be:
- Don’t forget to include your references slide in the correct format, whether using APA or Harvard, you need to insure that it is as it would be in your word document, indents where appropriate etc.
This really is the important one for nailing your presentation for both group and individual presentations. You get to hear your own voice, your pace, volume and you ability to pronounce difficult words that may be a part of your research. It is important to say it out loud at home, or use the mirror to watch your body language. I recorded myself once, and realised I rocked back and forth from toe to heel which could prove rather distracting to my audience. Doing things like recording yourself and watching it back will help you refine your body language, vocal expression and volume.
I think this is the one most groups fail to do too. There are few reasons why practicing together as a group is important.
- It helps you create consistency in the language used across your presentation. Sometimes we all write our own bit for a group presentation, and forget to ensure that the language we use in consistence throughout. For example, if we are talking about a specific term such as ‘strength training’, and another person uses ‘resistance training’, yes they mean the same thing, however, in a presentation, the group should decide on what you are calling key specific terms and use this consistently across everyone’s contribution.
- Also too, practicing the slide transition of your PowerPoint is important. If you have one member running the PowerPoint, they will need to practice transitioning the slide along with your talk. It will run so much smoother on the day if you do this.
For Groups and Individual Presentations:
- Practicing gives you the opportunity to time your presentation. It is only fair to stay within your time as each class only runs for so long. I have been in a workshop where one group when for more than double of the time they should have. Being the last group to present, our question time was cut short and we felt interrupted when the next workshop group wanted to enter the classroom. So think of others and keep to the time limit. Your assessor and fellow students will appreciate it.
For more help with presentation, from preparation to delivery, check out this link to the achieve@uni.
Good luck! Wish me luck next Thursday!